GUIDE 2022

What is the Medical Writing Career Path?

So you want to become a medical writer? You’ve come to the right place!

Healthcare and medicine are vital industries with fantastic career opportunities. A medical writer produces well-structured scientific and medical content for the general public and healthcare experts.

Medical writing is a challenging, yet rewarding career path for aspiring writers. Medical writers earn lucrative salaries and enjoy better perks than their non-medical counterparts.

To become a medical writer, you need to pursue a specific career path. This means you need to have an educational background with an advanced degree in medicine and a solid command of the English language.

Let’s discuss what it takes to become a successful medical writer.

What Career Options Are Available in Medical Writing?

Anyone with strong English writing skills and an interest in the health care industry can become a medical writer. Medical writing is a subpart of technical writing, as you need to have strong technical skills to produce accurate medical content.

Medical writers produce content with a different tone and style catering to each assignment. Some examples are:

  • Medical equipment sales training manuals
  • Articles for medical newspapers, magazines, and websites
  • Medical journal for scientists, doctors, and other healthcare experts
  • Medicine booklets
  • Clinical trial report
  • Outcomes research
  • Materials for promotion of devices and drugs
  • Health and safety reports
  • Clinical trials and reports
  • Research proposals
  • White papers
  • Multimedia conferences

What is the Medical Writing Career Path?

How do you figure out the right medical writing career path for you? There are numerous medical writing positions.

You can get stable and high-paying jobs in academia (writing a thesis, research papers, and teaching), the pharmaceutical industry (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and patient leaflets), news organizations (WebMD), clinical research organizations, or Government (FDA).

Here are some medical writer positions in this field:

Medical Writer

Medical writers (medical communicators) work in close cooperation with scientists, doctors, and other medical professionals, to create documentation catering to a specific audience.

They have an in-depth understanding of scientific and medical concepts to write clear and concise documentation.

Job Responsibilities

  • Writing research results of common clinical trials
  • Extracting data from statistical analysis and creating documents and presentations
  • Producing monographs
  • Writing regulatory documents for drug approvals
  • Developing Patient leaflets
  • Medical case studies
  • Medical breaking news

Preferred Qualification

Here is a list of preferred qualifications and education requirements for a medical writing position:

  • In-depth understanding of the drug manufacturing process
  • Adept knowledge of ICH-GCP
  • Exceptional writing skills with a strong command of written and spoken English
  • Ability to multitasks
  • Ability to meet deadlines on time
  • Self-motivated with leadership skills
  • Strong knowledge of MS Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree relevant to life sciences or the English language
  • Basic understanding and knowledge of human anatomy, pathology, and medical science
  • Strong communication skills for lab meetings, conferences, and seminars
  • Completing projects under tight deadlines
  • Producing research papers, grant proposals, and conference abstracts
  • Coordinating with other medical publication professionals in the field to produce technical documents
  • Mentoring and training undergraduate students, graduate students, and lab technicians

Medical Editor

A medical editor can do more than check the spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in the medical content. A medical editor (or scientific editor) revises scientific language for usage, flow, and clarity.

Medical editors (scientific editors, healthcare editors) review medical and scientific publishing, journals, research papers, clinical research reports, and a variety of documents for clarity and flow. They also fact-check and reduce jargon and biased language to ensure zero discrepancies.

While it is the job of medical writers to ensure accuracy in documentation, editors review documentation to implement the best practices of textbooks, medical journals, and health experts.

Job Responsibilities

A medical editor has a lot of responsibilities, such as:

  • All content is free from fluff and plagiarism
  • Proofreading the content for grammatical and spelling mistakes
  • Fact-checking the content and implementing best practices
  • Developing guidelines and content briefs for writers on articles
  • Reviewing manuscripts for submission in journals
  • Editing materials for publications such as academic institutions, journals, or magazines
  • Completing projects under a tight deadline
  • Strong writing skills and knowledge of Word and Google Docs

The editor upholds the author’s voice but ensures consistency in facts, data, and scientific units.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in English or life sciences
  • Excellent communication skills to coordinate with other experienced medical writers, doctors, scientists, and other healthcare professionals
  • Minimum 1 year of experience reviewing scientific publications
  • Basic scientific knowledge
  • Ability to understand scientific documents
  • Review regulatory writing manuscripts and clinical manuscripts for accuracy
  • Advanced knowledge in understanding scientific data

Successful medical writers are problem solvers with expert skills in medical communication.

Here are some leading associations for medical writers:

  • European Medical Writers Association
  • American Medical Writers Association
  • International Society of Medical Publication Professionals

Medical Translator (Interpreter)

Due to an influx of immigrants from countries where English is a non-native language, there is a need for medical translators. In the US and Europe, where people from different races and ethnicities speak multiple languages, pharmaceutical companies cannot rely on medical writing in the English language.

If you are fluent in at least two languages, chances are you can land a high-paying job as a medical interpreter.

Your job is to translate and interpret scientific and medical information from healthcare providers to patients who speak different languages.

As a translator, you need to convey precise and accurate medical information from patients to healthcare providers and vice versa.

Translation that is accurate, free of fluff, and unbiased is important to convey critical information without any obstacles.

Job Responsibilities

  • Translate queries, medical history, and other relevant information from patients to medical staff
  • Translate accurate answers to queries and scientific data from healthcare professionals to the patients without any bias
  • Provide information on instructions and diagnoses to patients
  • Ensure confidentiality of medical documents
  • Understand cultural and language gaps, and work a bridge between healthcare professionals and patients

Preferred Qualifications

  • Excellent command of two languages
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Excellent listening skills
  • Showing empathy and patience to patients
  • A minimum bachelor’s degree in life sciences
  • Outstanding knowledge of medical terminology

Medical Writing Careers and Salary Prospects

Medical writers in the US earn an average of $71,238, according to Indeed. However, this amount varies depending upon skillsets, experience, location, and organization. Medical writers working for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies also earn as much as $200,000+ per annum.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that medical writers are experts in technical writing. BLS estimates it to grow by 7% by 2029. This is a high growth rate and quite promising for anyone venturing into this industry.

As biotech firms and pharmaceutical companies release new products, there is a dire need for expert writers who can convert complex topics into easy-to-understand language for the audience.

Is Medical Writing a Good Career Path?

Many PhDs and MBBSs have not paid attention to medical writing as a career option.

However, having a degree in linguistics, with an excellent grip over the English language, you can land lucrative jobs with great perks and benefits as medical writing in this industry.

Medical writing is an umbrella term spanning everything from writing to editing in medicine, drugs, and scientific documents.

To give you a bigger picture, the medical industry needs capable writers to fill vacant positions. An estimate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that within the next 6 years, there is a growth rate of 11% for this role.

As a medical writer, you enjoy the benefits of flexibility should you choose freelancing and side hustles as your career option.

It is an excellent career choice if you have the necessary skills, scientific expertise, and education.

What Industries Need Medical Writing?

Medical writers combine research skills and knowledge of science for various industries.

Not only do medical writers work with pharmaceutical companies, but also with other healthcare experts in writing journals, articles, and breaking news.

Here are some of the most common industries having a high demand for medical writers.

Pharmaceutical Companies

In the pharmaceutical industry, there is a specific need for medical writers to develop well-written medical documents for drugs in a clear manner.

You will guide the pharmaceutical company in developing promotional materials for new drugs and medical devices.

Other than this, there is also a complex process of regulatory submissions, clinical trials, and reviews. Medical writers understand this process to write documentation that can gain approval from the FDA (Federal Drug Authority) and ensure legal compliance with state/federal agencies.

Contract Research Organizations

If you prefer having variety in your field, you can to choose work for a CRO writing medical content on diseases and treatments.

CROs act as third-party service providers to pharmaceutical companies, helping with clinical trials and regulatory documents.

Medical Communication Companies

In the medical communication field, writers develop:

  • Manuscripts for publication in medical journals
  • Conference papers such as posters, abstracts, and slide decks
  • Promotional items for pharmaceutical marketing
  • Training materials for the staff of pharmaceutical companies

Summary

If you have an educational background, interest, or knowledge in medicine, health, and well-being, then medical writing is a rewarding career path you can take.

Many medical professionals do not pay much attention to the exciting career opportunities in medical writing. But the truth is, medical writing is as lucrative as other fields in the industry.

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry offers amazing opportunities for medical writers due to the introduction of new drugs and medical devices in the market. If writing medical content, meeting with professionals, and traveling to seminars and workshops excite you, then medical writing is a great career choice.